Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Fictional Phenomenon - It's Just Divine
Gene Roddenberry, Hollywood screenwriter and creator of Star Trek, once said, "No one in his right mind gets up in the morning and says, 'I think I'll create a phenomenon today.'" Fiction author Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, would probably agree with him, yet these two writers created story worlds and characters who have become deeply ingrained in our culture. Will they be considered to be some of the greatest writers of our time? Possibly not, but characters like Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and James Bond will live on in the imaginations of fans.
Sharon posted about the amazing recent popularity of The Shack and Twilight, and made the observation that perhaps story trumps craft. I would agree and go a step further to suggest that, in addition, story world trumps craft. The proof of this is in the vast proliferation of fan fiction. Fans refuse to leave the richly textured worlds that their favorite authors create--along with the characters--and continue with their own stories in order to perpetuate that story world. The Lord of the Rings would also fall into this phenomenon category. The hippie catch-phrase, Frodo Lives, showed up as early as the 60's and 70's on t-shirts, buttons and graffiti, but even today, the story sells in book form, on DVDs and online gaming programs. Forty years later, fans are still churning out fan fiction starring their favorite characters in Middle Earth.
I began the first book in the Twilight series, just to see what all the hoopla was about, but the teen perspective didn't hold my interest. I get the forbidden allure of the brooding Edward --perhaps Meyer's answer to 'Mr. Darcy' as a vampire. However, I did get a taste of the story world and I can see how it could easily become a brooding character in itself. If I were a teen, I would probably be camping out at Barnes & Noble at midnight waiting for the next installment to arrive.
So, while story world could help explain Twilight's shot to stardom, what about The Shack? I pushed through The Shack in anticipation of the out-of-the-box personifications that had caused a major rift in the Christian community, and I have to say that I think Divine purpose was responsible for its meteoric rise. Does anyone remember a sleeper movie about a dedicated Christian who refused to compromise his ideals, called Chariots of Fire? In a surprise upset in 1981, it took 4 out of 7 academy awards, including Best Picture. (I'll never forget the look of utter shock on Warren Beatty's face when Reds lost the Oscar.) Now, I only compare the two to illustrate my belief that God is in control, because Chariots was extremely well done. It had stiff competition, just like The Shack, but the story was divinely inspired, rising to the top like cream over big-budget movies such as On Golden Pond, Reds and Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was found winsome and worthy in the eyes of the Academy judges, and had something to say at a time when we desperately needed to hear it. There is no way to predict such divine phenomenon.